”How Fast Was I Going?”
Vol: 105 Issue: 18 Friday, June 18, 2010
From time to time, somebody will email to complain about my use of the King James Version of the Bible. It almost always begins confrontationally, complete with accusations of “King James Onlyism” or “Biblolatry.”
I personally study the KJV. And I believe there are flaws in the other translations. But I don’t insist that all other versions are either worthless or Satanic.
You see, the reason that I believe there are flaws in the other translations is because guys who CAN read Greek, Latin and Coptic Egyptian compared all three and THEY said there were differences.
Things that are different are not the same, so, if there are differences, it is clear that there are flaws somewhere.
But since I can’t read Greek, Latin and Coptic, never translated the TR or the CV/CS, in the end, I am choosing the KJV as the superior text primarily on faith, am I not?
Where have I placed my faith? In God? Or is my faith in what one set of translators say, rather than that of another set of translators? Or faith in what one group of writers and thinkers say, rather than that of another group of writers and thinkers? And so on.
After all, if I am to charge out there and defend the King James Version of the Bible, I should be sure I am defending God’s Word, and not that I am defending what a group of 15th century translators said was God’s Word.
I have my reasons for being suspicious of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts, but when you get right down to it, I don’t know without first looking it up which modern translations are from CV/CS and which are not.
The inherent flaw in “King James Onlyism” is that it leads to “Bibliolatry” which is a form of idolatry in which one worships a Book more than its Author.
The problem with dogmatically declaring the King James Version of the Bible as the superior translation is that my faith is placed in translators, intellectuals and scholars whom I’ve never met, instead of an all-powerful God that is as capable of ensuring the Bible I have is the Bible He wanted me to have as He was of inspiring those He used to write it.
I agree with the sentiment that “God only wrote one Bible” but it is equally true that He didn’t write it in English. The debate soon shifts from faith in the translators to faith in the copyists that transcribed the Textus Receptus from which the KJV was translated.
The oldest complete existing copy of the Textus Receptus dates to about the 10th century AD.
In 1845 an emissary of Fredrick, King of Saxony was visiting the Convent of St. Catharine in the Egyptian Sinai when he noticed some old looking documents stacked up as kindling for lighting the stove.
The emissary, Friedrich Tischendorff, examined one of the pages and recognized it as an ancient piece of the Bible written in Greek.
Tischendorf stunned the world when he unveiled his ‘Codex Sinaiticanus’ written in Greek and penned in the 4th century AD, making it the oldest known complete ‘autograph’ [hand-copied manuscript] of the Bible in existence.
Shortly thereafter, the Vatican discovered a similarly old manuscript that was dubbed the “Codex Vaticanus” written in Latin. It was from these newly-discovered manuscripts that the NIV and a host of new Bible versions have been produced.
The immediate problem with the new translation is that the original Sinaticus/Vaticanus manuscripts are themselves translations of translations. It is fair to argue that things are often lost in translation, and that is where most of the debate is centered.
The battle between King James Onlyists and those who champion some other version of Scripture has always centered on which version is the most accurate.
Let me say it up front. I don’t know which version is the most accurate. Some guys with lots of credentials say the King James is the most accurate. Some guys with similarly long lists of credentials say it is a different version.
I have neither the credentials nor the knowledge necessary to refute either side’s conclusions as to which is the most accurate.
But that doesn’t mean the issue is irrelevant.
In their 1992 acceptance speeches for the Democratic nomination, Bill Clinton and Al Gore both tossed in a little Scripture to assure the voters that God was on the Democrat side.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man the things that we can build” was God’s message to Bill Clinton.
Al Gore told his audience, “Scripture says, Do not lose heart. This nation will be renewed.” Clinton misquoted 1st Corinthians 2:9 replacing God’s promise with a promise from Bill Clinton.
When I was researching the story for a segment on “This Week In Bible Prophecy” I went through every Bible version I could find to figure out where Gore got his.
Al Gore just made his up entirely. Nobody seemed to notice. If anybody did notice, they probably assumed what I initially assumed. That I didn’t recognize it because it was from another Bible version.
THAT is the real problem with having two dozen different Bibles. Not that you or I have any way of knowing which one is the most accurate.
The problem is not being able to tell if somebody is quoting Scripture or just making it up.
I recently traded in my car for a newer one. The newer one has a regular clockface speedometer and a digital speed readout displayed directly beside it where it is easier to read. So it has two different speedometers.
I also have one of those stick-to-your-windshield navigators. One of the features on it is that it also displays your speed digitally, which gives me yet a third speedometer.
The problem is, they don’t match. When my navigator says I’m going sixty mph, my speedometer says I’m going sixty-five.
So I’ve got three speedometers and I don’t know how fast I’m going.
The same problem exists with multiple versions of the Bible. There are a dozen Bible versions and I have no way of knowing if the guy quoting Scripture is quoting it accurately.
I do not believe that the existence of so many different versions of the Bible is the result of a deliberate conspiracy by Satanists. I believe that the majority, if not all the Bible translators must have been believers as well as serious scholars of Scripture.
I believe that they believed that they were improving on the original product and that they had God’s blessing on their efforts.
However, I also believe in the Law of Unintended Consequences.
The introduction of the Sinaticus and Vaticanus manuscripts and the so-called “Age of Enlightenment” followed parallel tracks. The Age of Enlightenment is often referred to as the beginning of the “Age of Reason” or the “Age or Rationalism.”
The Age of Enlightenment is credited by Church historians with the demise of the Philadelphian Church Era and the rise of the Church of Laodicea.
History proves that to be a fair assessment.
While the translators and scholars may have intended only good things to come from their efforts, the effect is the same as having three different speedometers.
My speedometers all agree that my car is in motion. But the details about how fast are, at best, a little fuzzy. Whether or not I get a ticket would depend on which speed the cop says I was going. If I only had one speedometer reading, I might argue. But with two, how can I be sure?
I don’t worship the King James Version of the Bible. But I study from it. I teach from it. It is the only source I trust for doctrine. I will from time to time use other versions to help clarify certain points, the same way I might use a Bible commentary.
But when it comes to doctrinal truth, there can be only one standard authority. For me, that is the King James Version. How do I know that the Bible I am using is the most accurate?
I have a certain amount of faith in the scholars and theologians and translators that tell me it is the most accurate, but I have no way of knowing if they are right.
But I trust that the God that inspired the Bible is capable of preserving it the way He wants me to have it. That’s why I use it. That’s why I teach from it.
For the same reason I’m taking my car in to get the speedometer fixed. Close is good enough, sometimes. Sixty-five mph isn’t the same as sixty. And when you need to know the difference, you need to know.
Just ask a cop.